‘The Nashville Sessions’ by Changing Horses(April 03, 2012)
Changing Horses may not have worldwide acclaim. Their name may not be on everyone’s lips. Some might even ask ‘who’? Their debut album ‘The Nashville Sessions’ with its slightly misleading title (no Country music in sight), will change all that. This is raw yet refined, quasi-experimental, pop-edged folk smoothed over eccentric vocals and phrasing, woven through distinctive ‘strings and things’ to create something at once both familiar and strange. And if that ain’t enough to catch your ear - nothing will.
From the catchy, hook-laden opener ‘Cut All Strings’ you’re into their individual style. Slightly anarchic vocals and delivery laid over hypnotic melodies. Move into ‘Let’s Go Dancing’ and ‘1 Million Screaming Angels’ and Richard’s voice takes charge, swooping and gliding the lyrics over the strings with idiosyncratic style. The potency of ‘I Don’t Need It’ increases the electricity bill while ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ returns to a more acoustical vein; still with the vocal dexterity. Think peculiar musical theatricals bolted to zany unconventional poetry and you’re pretty much there. Pity there’s only six tracks to enjoy.
Changing Horses are Richard Birtill (vocals, guitar) and Francesca Cullen (vocals, violin, ukulele, mandolin, guitar, melodeon) on this album they’re joined by Chris Donohue (mandolin, electric and acoustic bass, guitar, keyboard) Stephen Leiweke (guitar, engineering) Ken Lewis (drums, percussion) and the Echo Chamber Society (additional strings).
And incidentally, the album cover fits the music perfectly - echoes of a combined ‘Hamletesque’ view with Richard’s classic stance: “Alas poor Yorik I knew him”, complete with manic expression and Francesca’s fragile Ophelia-like flower-holding allusion. Then again, having listened to this album a few times it’s probably my mind working overtime.
Reviewer: Dan Holland